Can A Male Yeast Infection Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction can be caused by several different factors. If you’re wondering what the cause of your erectile dysfunction is, a yeast infection may be worth considering.

In this article, we’ll cover what a male yeast infection is, how long they last, and whether they cause erectile dysfunctions.

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What is a male yeast infection?

Male yeast infections (candidal balanitis) are caused by a fungal infection on the penis. Commonly referred to as male thrush, these infections can be particularly uncomfortable and produce serious complications if left untreated.

Yeast infections are not as common in males as they are in females, but can occur in any person with a penis, regardless of age, gender or race.

The use of the word ‘male’ in this article refers to people who are biologically male (i.e. have biologically male genitalia). We do note that people who have penises can identify as genders other than male.

However, our use of the term 'male' in this context exclusively refers to biological males. The word ‘female’ is also used to refer only to biological females.

Symptoms of penile yeast infection

The words 'yeast infection' may trigger thoughts of itching, pain, and redness that often occur in females and such symptoms are also relatively common in males.

Males often report severe irritation and discomfort, with common symptoms such as:

  • Redness, irritation, or rash around the head (glans) of the penis

  • White, thick, and lumpy discharge from the penis

  • Itchiness

  • Smelly discharge or yeast-like substance under the foreskin

  • Pain when urinating or having intercourse

  • Tightness of foreskin, causing difficulty moving it

  • White patches or sores on the penis

  • Swelling at the tip of the penis and the foreskin

Such symptoms can be a sign of other genital conditions and sexually transmitted diseases. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek help from a healthcare professional.

Causes of penile yeast infections

Penile yeast infections are caused by a fungus called candida,¹ commonly the Candida albicans species. This fungus thrives in warm, wet areas of the body such as male and female genitals, especially after exercise or in hotter climates.

Candida exists innocuously in most humans, where it is kept in check by our ever-active immune systems. Certain risk factors, however, can increase the reproduction of candida, causing a fungal overgrowth and subsequent yeast infection.

A yeast infection is not classified as a sexually transmitted disease, although it can sometimes be passed on through unprotected intercourse. Penile yeast infections can also be triggered by irritation from sex itself, the use of spermicide, or a reaction to lubricated condoms.

While minor cases of penile yeast infection don't usually cause concern, when left untreated they can become much more serious. Individuals can develop a severe form of yeast infection called invasive candidiasis.² 

With long periods of untreated infection, the fungus can enter the bloodstream and spread throughout the body. This can affect the liver, brain, and heart, and can even be fatal³ in some cases. This is more likely in those with weakened immune systems and people who have recently used a catheter.

The possibility of invasive candidiasis is a key reason to seek medical treatment promptly if any of the above symptoms appear.

Risk factors of penile yeast infection

As with any other disease, many factors can increase your likelihood of developing a penile yeast infection These include:

  • Infrequent bathing or poor genital hygiene

  • Not being circumcised

  • Diabetes mellitus⁴

  • Immunodeficiency disorders and weakened immune systems

  • Morbid obesity

  • Sensitivity to certain chemicals (e.g., in soap)

  • Condom catheters

While some factors, such as the disorders mentioned or the use of certain medications, cannot be avoided, there are some relatively easy steps to avoid the development of a penile yeast infection.


The diagnosis of a penile yeast infection requires a visit to a general practitioner (GP), urologist, or sexual health professional.

This visit will likely involve the professional asking you questions about your symptoms and an examination of your external genitalia. If the infection is suspected to be invasive, additional testing, including urine samples, may be required.

You should not be ashamed or embarrassed about the symptoms of male yeast infection when seeking treatment. The medical people you see are professionals and are there to help you.

Additionally, the prognosis of penile yeast infections is better when diagnosis occurs early. Because of this, it is best to visit a doctor as soon as you experience symptoms.


Cases of penile yeast infection are often relatively easy to treat. Many candida infections can disappear with the simple improvement of genital hygiene or increased frequency of cleaning underwear and other clothes.

For moderate to severe yeast infections, most medical professionals will prescribe some form of antifungal cream. These are used superficially and are often available over the counter. These treatments include:

  • Clotrimazole

  • Terconazole

  • Fluconazole

In cases of invasive candidiasis, antifungal treatments are usually given intravenously (IV) and should be continued for around two weeks after symptoms retreat. This needs to occur through IV, as the infection must be cleared from the blood.

Can a male yeast infection cause erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction⁵ (ED) is a relatively common condition in which males are unable to gain or sustain an erection. This condition can be detrimental to quality of life and can be caused by a variety of factors.

These include psychological trauma, certain drugs, and possibly penile yeast infections. While there is a general lack of research looking into the direct impact of male yeast infections on erectile dysfunction, certain symptoms may reduce the ability to become erect and sustain that erection.

Some experts even note that trouble getting or keeping an erection is a symptom of some male yeast infections.

How can male yeast infections cause erectile dysfunction?

With the limited research on male yeast infections' effect on erectile dysfunction, it is not possible to say that they directly cause erectile dysfunction. However certain symptoms can limit a person's ability to gain an erection.

Phimosis – difficulty in pulling the foreskin back – can severely limit the ability to gain an erection. This can cause uncomfortable or painful tightness that can also reduce the length of time an erection can be sustained.

People with comorbid phimosis and erectile dysfunction⁶ often find that the treatment of phimosis also treats their erectile dysfunction.

Other symptoms of male yeast infections such as pain during intercourse, itchy rashes, and painful sores may also make it hard to maintain an erection. Swelling of the tip of the penis may also cause pain during erection.

How long can a yeast infection last in men?

If male yeast infections are promptly treated, symptoms should subside within 7-14 days.⁷ If the infections keep recurring, the treatment period may be up to six months. Recurring yeast infections aren’t likely to be caused by sex, or lack of hygiene, but rather by other underlying disorders.

This could include immune deficiencies or diabetes, so it is best to consult with a healthcare professional.

Invasive candidiasis can last longer, with some extremely severe cases requiring prolonged treatment in the hospital.

Preventive measures

While certain risk factors for male yeast infections, such as immunodeficiency or circumcision, can not be altered, there are a few ways to reduce your risk⁸ of developing this condition.

The first of these is avoiding intercourse with others whom you know have yeast infections. Also, avoid having sex if you are infected. This can increase the likelihood of the yeast infection being passed back to you, even once yours has been treated.

Other preventative measures include:

  • Keeping good genital hygiene, including daily washing of the penis and ensuring it is thoroughly dried after showers

  • Bathing after taking part in activities that may promote moisture and heat in your genital region, as the bacteria causing yeast infection thrive in these conditions

  • Cleaning under your foreskin (if uncircumcised) with a bar of unscented soap and warm water, especially after sex

  • Wearing condoms when having penetrative sex to reduce the likelihood of irritation and overgrowth of candida

  • Avoiding wearing tight or wet underwear

  • Avoiding prolonged periods of antibiotic use, if possible

When should I visit a doctor?

If you notice symptoms of a male yeast infection, see a doctor as soon as possible.

Even if these symptoms are not related to a yeast infection, they may be due to a more serious sexually transmitted infection⁹ (STI) such as HIV, gonorrhea, or genital herpes.

Early treatment also reduces the likelihood of invasive candidiasis occurring, which can have much worse outcomes.

The lowdown

Even though yeast infections are commonly considered a female condition, males can also get penile yeast infections.

The symptoms of these infections can be rather unpleasant and promote comorbidities such as erectile dysfunction. However, with good hygiene and normal washing habits, male yeast infections can be prevented in most healthy people.

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